Lessons From the Field: It’s All Just Interpreting… Or is it?

By Athena Matilsky

When I enter a court-room, I suddenly transform into “Madame Interpreter.” I must admit, the first time a judge addressed me in such a fashion I felt a thrill. I still find it quite soothing to the ears; it’s one of the bonuses of working in court.

However, when I first started interpreting, the courthouse intimidated me. I found it easier to work in clinics and hospitals, where things didn’t feel so formal and rigid. I felt like I was helping to facilitate peoples’ well-being instead of their punishments.

In a medical setting, I’m definitely not “Madame…

LIL: Double Meanings in Interpretation

            One of the most important principles of the interpretation field is being able to produce a complete and accurate rendering of the source material. This is generally understood to mean that we shouldn’t add, omit, or alter anything in the original message. However, this mantra can be extended even further by adding that our renditions should be understood in exactly the same way as the original message. I think Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin said it best: “. . .[we] want to be sure / ‘cause you know…

LIL: Use it or Lose it: Maintaining a Language

Congratulations! You’re bilingual! Maybe you’ve spoken two languages all your life, or maybe you picked one up in school. Or maybe you’re one of those rare creatures we call a polyglot: a person who knows and can use multiple languages (usually more than two).

No matter how you acquired your language(s), you now face a decision. Do you want to keep this language, or forget it?

If you do end up forgetting a language that you wanted to keep, you’ve essentially lost everything you invested into learning that language: tuition, time, relationships, effort, etc.

Even your native language can suffer…

Lessons from the Field – Check Interpreting: A Survival Kit

By Katty Kauffman

A few days ago a former student reached out for guidance. She had been hired to interpret at a trial, but when she arrived she discovered that she was in fact there to serve as a check interpreter. Her question was simple: what should I do?

Unfortunately, the answer is not that straightforward. While there is plenty of guidance out there for court interpreters in general, when it comes to check interpreting, there is precious little to go by.

But first, what is “check interpreting?” When might we be asked to serve as a monitor or “check”…

LiL: The Question Language Learners Need to Ask Themselves: Why?

Whenever one starts learning a new language, all kinds of questions come up immediately: “Which language should I choose? What’s the best way to go about learning a language? What should I learn first? How can I get over the embarrassment of making mistakes?” These are all perfectly valid questions, but there is one that people often forget about: Why?

The what and how questions are what we seem to focus on first above any others. These give us structure and substance, but in the context of language learning they only get us so far. More importantly, they don’t…

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